A gray tumble dryer with a large, front-loading door. The dryer sits on a wooden floor with a light blue background. The words, "Heat Pump Tumble Dryer vs Condenser Tumble Dryer" are written in bold black text on the right hand side of the image.

A dryer makes your laundry work much easier by removing the moisture from your clothes so they can be worn again without the risk of bacteria or mold growth.

Heat pump tumble and condenser dryers are the two most common options on the market, but choosing between them can be a bit of a dilemma.

So, what’s better?

Heat pump tumble dryers are better in terms of energy efficiency, but they’re slower and more expensive than condenser dryers. On the other hand, condenser dryers are cheaper and dry clothes faster, but they’re less energy-efficient. What’s better depends on your priorities.

In the rest of this article, I’ll discuss the critical differences between heat pump tumble dryers and condenser dryers.

I’ll also cover what to consider when choosing between these dryers.

Keep reading to find out more!

If energy efficiency is the overriding consideration for you, we’ve written an article that you might find interesting, called, “What Is the Most Energy-Efficient Dryer Type? (5 Varieties).”

What Is a Heat Pump Tumble Dryer?

The front view of a fully-loaded heat pump dryer
A heat pump dryer incorporates a heat pump to recover heat from the drum instead of venting it from the machine. This makes it far more energy efficient than conventional dryers.

A heat pump tumble dryer is a type of dryer that uses a heat pump to circulate warm air around the drum.

This process removes moisture from clothes and doesn’t require as much energy as other types of dryers because it doesn’t involve heating a coil using electrical energy directly.

Heat pump tumble dryers are energy-efficient since they ensure no heat is lost and the warm air is cooled and recirculated into the system.

Typically, dryers can lose some heat as they eliminate moisture extracted from clothes from their systems.

However, the design of heat pump tumble dryers allows them to remove moisture without losing heat. That’s because they use an evaporator to discharge hot and humid air, eliminating moisture without heat loss.

How a Heat Pump Dryer Works

illustration of technology behind heat pump dryers in relation to conventional dryers
Heat pump dryers use a refrigeration cycle to recover heat from within the drum, concentrate it and reuse it to heat the air before it is blown back into the drum to dry the clothes. This makes them much more efficient than conventional dryers that vent the heat from the drum and lose it to the room or vent it outside.

A heat pump dryer uses a refrigerant like a refrigerator or a freezer.

According to Science Direct, a refrigerant is a gas that evaporates at low temperatures and condenses back into a liquid at high temperatures.

The heat pump dryer has two coils:

  • An evaporator coil
  • A condenser coil

The evaporator coil draws heat from the hot, moist air leaving the drum. This captured heat is reused in the dryer instead of just being dumped outside via the vent, which happens in a conventional dryer.

Water vapor in the warm, moist air condenses on the outside of the cold evaporator coil and turns into water, which is stored in the tank or removed via the drain. The refrigerant in the coil absorbs the heat from the air and turns into a gas.

The refrigerant is then passed through a compressor, which heats it before it is directed through another coil, where it transfers its heat to the dry air that has just passed across the evaporator coil.

The hot, dry air then travels back into the drum to dry the wet clothes.

This closed-loop heat exchange ensures that the dryer retains as much heat as possible to dry the clothes in the drum, which makes a heat pump tumble dryer much more efficient than a traditional dryer.

If you’re interested in the refrigeration cycle, you might want to read this more detailed account of how heat pumps work.

The Pros of Heat Pump Tumble Dryers

Heat pump tumble dryers are designed with modern technology to ensure efficiency. These dryers have the following pros:

They Are Energy-Efficient

A stylized graph showing energy efficiency represented by different colored horizontal arrows of varying colors from green to red.
One of the biggest advantages of heat pump dryers is their enhanced energy efficiency. They are almost twice as efficient as a conventional dryer.

Choosing energy-efficient appliances can go a long way toward reducing your electricity bill.

Energy efficiency is even more critical when choosing dryers because heating and drying are the leading causes of higher household electricity use.

Heat pump tumble dryers are more energy-efficient than their condenser counterparts as they use a closed-loop heat exchange system. This means the warm air is recirculated back into the system to dry clothes.

The efficiency of heat pump tumble dryers is well-documented. Energy Star says heat pump dryers save 40 to 50 percent of electricity compared to condenser dryers.

A Variety of Sizes To Choose From

A large heat pump tumble dryer with its door open. The unit is white and has dials along the top edge of the front face above the door.
Heat pump dryers come in a range of sizes and are available in very big versions that will handle even the largest loads.

Your family’s size dictates the suitable dryer capacity. While a smaller dryer is ideal for a family with few members, you’ll need a larger unit to do laundry for a bigger family.

Heat pump tumble dryers come in different tank sizes, ranging from 7 kilograms to more than 10 kilograms (15.43 to more than 22.05 pounds). This gives you a versatile option for selecting the perfect dryer for your family.

Some models also have a larger drum size that can hold more clothes, making them ideal for individuals with large families or those that want to use the dryer for commercial purposes.

They Are Safer for Delicate Fabrics

Purple sheer fabric bunched up on a white surface.
Delicate fabrics are less likely to be damaged in a heat pump tumble dryer thanks to the lower operating temperatures.

It’s common to hear about dryers damaging and weakening clothes. Such scenarios are common in high-temperature dryers.

According to Science Daily, high temperatures weaken fabric strength by more than 25 percent.

This exposes your clothes to:

  • Tearing
  • Fading
  • Shrinking

Heat pump tumble dryers are better for damage-prone fabrics because they use low temperatures not exceeding 50°C (122°F). Low temperatures do not affect fabrics as much, meaning your clothes will remain strong and look new.

Heat pump tumble dryers also have multiple sensors for moisture detection. These sensors ensure that moisture is removed evenly all over the clothes. The result is consistently dried clothes.

They Are Easy To Maintain

A technician kneeling on the floo rbehind a vented dryer making a repair.
Repairs and maintenance are often forgotten about when people buy appliances, but they can be significant and must be taken into account for a full picture.

Maintaining your dryer is essential if you want it to last long and function properly. Heat pump tumble dryers are easy to maintain and are unlikely to break down.

You only need to regularly clean the lint filter and the condenser to ensure the dryer is working correctly. Some models also come with a self-cleaning function that makes it even easier to maintain the dryer.

No Venting

Venting is a drawback because you can’t install the dryer anywhere in the house. A venting dryer needs a strategic location where the venting hose can be connected to an external wall.

This limits your installation options, especially if you don’t have an exterior wall or the required length of the venting hose.

Heat pump tumble dryers don’t need venting as they don’t produce hot air. The lack of venting means you can install the dryer anywhere in the house, even in small laundry rooms.

The Cons of Heat Pump Tumble Dryers

Despite their many advantages, heat pump tumble dryers have a few disadvantages:

They Are Expensive

Although cheaper to use and maintain, buying a heat pump tumble dryer will cost you more than a condenser dryer.

This is because the technology used in these dryers is still new and not widely available.

Thus, heat pump tumble dryers are not your go-to option if you’re on a tight budget.

But while the high initial cost might be a barrier for some people, you’ll save money in the long run as these dryers are more energy-efficient.

They Take Longer To Dry Clothes

I mentioned earlier that one of the pros of heat pump tumble dryers is that they are safer for delicate fabrics because they use low temperatures.

However, the low temperature is also a drawback if you’re impatient.

It takes longer to dry clothes in a heat pump tumble dryer than its condenser counterpart. This is because the low temperatures mean the water evaporates more slowly.

You can solve this problem by getting a model with a higher capacity or using the fast-dry cycle if your model has one.

They Require Draining

A PVC P-trap laying on a tile floor
If your dryer is close enough to a drain, you should be able to plumb it in so that the condensation drains away automatically. If that’s not the case, you’ll have to remember to empty the reservoir regularly.

Heat pump tumble dryers have a water tank that needs to be emptied after each use. You need to take this extra step when using these dryers.

The tank usually has a capacity of about four cubic feet, which means you won’t have to empty it too often.

But if you’re forgetful, the water might start to smell, leading to mold growth.

To play it safe, empty the reservoir after every use, or find a model that has a drain hose, so you don’t need to empty a reservoir at all.

When to Choose a Heat Pump Tumble Dryer

A heat pump tumble dryer is your go-to option if:

  • You want an energy-efficient option: These dryers use a closed-loop heating system that ensures no heat is lost.
  • You want a quiet dryer: These dryers don’t use venting systems that produce noise.
  • You have a large capacity need: Heat pump tumble dryers have larger capacities that allow you to dry more laundry at once.

What Is a Condenser Dryer?

A condenser dryer blows air over a heating coil to provide the heat to evaporate the water from your clothes.

The hot, moist air is then passed through a condenser, where the water is condensed and collected in a reservoir.

How a Condenser Dryer Works

The heating element plays an essential part in the working of a condenser dryer. It heats the air inside the drum, and as the clothes tumble, this hot air evaporates the water from them.

The humid air is then passed through a condenser, where it cools down, condensing into water. This water is then collected in a container, which needs to be emptied after each use.

It’s worth noting that the heating element must get very hot for the dryer to work efficiently. This explains why condenser dryers use a lot of energy.

The Pros of Condenser Dryers

Condenser dryers have several advantages:

No Venting Required

An air vent set into a wall with lint clogging the grille.
A condenser dryer captures all the water vapor from the drum and stores it in a reservoir to be emptied periodically, or directs it down a drain if available. This avoids the need to vent the moisture-laden air to the outside of the building through a vent.

Condenser dryers don’t need to be vented so you can install them anywhere in the house. This is especially beneficial if you don’t have an external wall or enough space in your laundry room.

But while condenser dryers can function without an external vent, you’ll want to ensure that you install your unit in a spot or room with an adequate supply of fresh air from outside.

Condenser dryers need a constant supply of cool air for the condensing process to work properly.

They Dry Clothes Quickly

Unlike their heat pump tumble dryer counterparts, condenser dryers are quick at drying clothes because of the higher temperatures generated by the heating element.

The heating element heats air to between 70 and 75°C (158 and 167°F).

High temperatures quickly evaporate the water from clothes, so this is the best option for quicker drying.

The Cons of Condenser Dryers

Condenser dryers come with their fair share of drawbacks:

Higher Energy Bills

One of the most significant selling points of condenser dryers is that they’re faster, thanks to the high temperatures provided by the heating element.

However, the high temperatures also mean that condenser dryers use a lot of energy. This is why these dryers drive up the energy bill by a larger margin than heat pump tumble dryers.

You can offset this cost by getting a model with an energy-saving mode or using a lower temperature setting. However, the latter will slow the rate at which the dryer dries clothes.

Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide whether you want the clothes to dry faster or save on electricity bills.

They are Unsuitable for Some Fabrics

A closeup of the washing instructions label on a brown garment. The label has a red cross over the tumble dryer icon to indicate that it is not suitable for tumble drying.
Some garments will be damaged by the high temperatures in a tumble dryer. You should always follow the washing instructions on the label to avoid damage to your clothes.

The high temperatures in a condenser dryer are not ideal for delicate clothes such as wool and silk. These fabrics can shrink or get damaged when exposed to such high temperatures.

Apart from shrinking delicate clothes, high drying temperatures weaken the fabrics in other garments.

Therefore, condenser dryers are unsafe for general laundry as they tamper with clothes’ quality and durability.

Some condenser dryers have a cool setting that can help mitigate these harmful effects on your clothes, but you should always exercise caution and follow the instructions on your clothing labels.

They are Not Eco-Friendly

The environment and climate change are essential considerations when choosing any appliance for your home.

Condenser dryers have a high carbon footprint because of the way they operate.

The heating element uses a lot of electricity, the generation of which emits greenhouse gases, which contribute to climate change. So, a condenser dryer is not the best option if you’re looking for an eco-friendly unit.

When to Choose a Condenser Dryer

A condenser dryer is your go-to option if:

  • You want your clothes to dry quickly. These dryers have a heating element that heats the air to high temperatures for quicker drying.
  • You don’t have an external wall. Condenser dryers don’t need to be vented, so that you can install them anywhere in the house.
  • You’re on a tight budget. Condenser dryers are usually cheaper than other types of dryers, making them the best option for those on a budget. However, you should be ready to spend more on your energy bills.

Heat Pump Tumble Dryer vs. Condenser Dryer: Which Is Better?

A condenser or a heat pump dryer with a glass door, which is full of clothes.
Whether you go for a condenser or a heat pump dryer, you must consider the costs of ownership and whether the features on offer meet your needs.

Each of these dryers offers pros and cons, so choosing between them depends on your needs. To help make that decision easier, here are the most important factors to consider when choosing between the two:

  • Drying duration: Go with a condenser dryer if you want an option that dries your clothes faster.
  • Energy use: If you want to save on energy bills, use a heat pump dryer as it conserves heat.
  • Safety of your clothes: A heat pump tumble dryer is your go-to option if you’re concerned about your clothes’ lifespan.


Both heat pump tumble dryers and condenser dryers have distinct advantages and disadvantages, so it’s not exactly a black-and-white situation when choosing between them.

Ultimately, it all comes down to what you prioritize most: energy efficiency, the safety of your clothes, or drying them fast.

You decide.

If you’ve already decided to go for a heat pump dryer, you can find out which is the best for you in our article, “What Is the Best-Rated Heat Pump Dryer Available?

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